From a company steeped in tradition the 2011 Jaguar XJ line marks the biggest departure in Jaguar's flagship luxury sedan in half a century, returning to its legacy of sporting, stylish cars. The 2011 XJ is a new car from top to bottom, sharing nothing more with its predecessor than the name, an occasional piece of hardware, or a seatbelt buckle.
Sleek in profile, the XJ abandons the box-on-box shape but keeps the delicate roof pillars of the previous century in favor of a single flowing line from windshield to tail lamps without the drawbacks of many of the so-called four-door coupes. The Jaguar XJ is longer than a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class. The new Jaguar is sexy and won't be mistaken for anything else.
Leather and wood feature prominently in the saloon, now an enveloping shape filled with conveniences in a blending of Acura-esque low-cowl and technology, Italian shapes, and English materials. You may think English materials mean only flat wood planks, leather seats and wool carpet, yet the English make a majority of the world's racing cars so they know advanced materials and processes as well.
The XJ is made of a rigid aluminum structure that keeps weight to a minimum. This weight advantage of roughly 10 percent over the competition pays dividends in economy, acceleration, handling precision, ride comfort, and longevity with no detriment to strength or added cost.
Jaguar's newest engine is a 5.0-liter V8, with 385 horsepower in standard versions and 470-510 hp in supercharged cars. They've been powering Range Rovers for nearly a year and, with almost a ton less weight to haul around, give the XJ more than satisfactory performance. Propulsion is always smooth and satisfying, the supercharged models are merely faster than the normally aspirated version. Supercharged come with 20-inch wheels, optional on other models, and a Supercharged badge added to the front fender trim.
Each of three Jaguar XJ models is available as a standard or long-wheelbase car. The long-wheelbase XJL models are nearly 5 inches longer in overall length and have an additional five inches of additional leg room in the rear seats, matching cars that appear substantially larger. XJL models have longer rear side doors and glass, and an L badge on the trunk.
The Jaguar XJ competes with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS, Maserati Quattroporte, Aston Martin Rapide, and Porsche Panamera.